Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grief at 1 year

Today marks one year since probably the worst thing that has every happened to me, the death of Gemini. For those who may be newer to the blog, Gemi received a head injury as a result of rough play from another dog last year. The symptoms of the head injury didn't show up until 3 days after the injury. She was left brain dead and I had to make the decision to have her euthanized 5 days after the accident. All of this happened while my husband was away (he went to Europe to meet up with his brother who was on leave from a tour in Afghanistan).

Looking back now, I must admit I have no idea how I got through those first days and weeks. I lived with many of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I lived on edge. There were days I was barely able to function. Showering became the hardest task. I dreaded it because I knew going into the tub opened up this pandora's box of grief (aka hysterical crying - FYI  it is hard to wash your hair and dangerous to shave your legs if you are crying that hard). I could barely go to the dog park, any play sent flashes to the accident. It was freakin' terrible. 

But I did live through it and now whenever I am faced with something stressful I say "I lived through Gemi's death, I can do this." (With all the stress of moving, and praying for a buyer and bank errors, I have been saying this a lot!). This past week, Gemi's ghost has definitely been with me and I have had some challenging moments. 

While I haven't talked about it here, Gemi is always on my mind. Usually more good/funny things than pain. Last month while at Conroy for a walk on a stinking hot day my brother-in-law and I discussed how Gemi would have hated this heat. She would have not refused to walk, but walked so slowly that you were sure a turtle would beat her. And if you had tried to pick her up . . . she would have given you the evil Gemi eye.

Even a year later I still occasionally have waves of grief and guilt. They are further apart and less intense than those first few months. (So don't worry I have been able to shower this year!)

I think the thing that I am struck with is that I feel like the accident and her death changed me. Maybe not so much in a way that others would see, but inside I have felt different since then. This is so different then Loki's death (he died after a lengthy battle with an auto-immune disorder). I think the difference is, rational, fair or not, is that I see Gemi's death as preventable. It was an accident. Loki's was something I could not do a darn thing about, it was internal. I think being involved in an accident, (even one where everyone would agree was not foreseen and they would not have done anything differently), always leaves you with a "should have." It also showed these things could happen in my rather blessed life. I am not immune from tragedy.  

All of this and maybe because it was only 14 months or so after Loki's death, "broke" a part of me. I don't know if it can be repaired, nor do I always think it should be repaired. I believe the scars we carry (internally and externally) do make us who we are and remind us of the good, the bad and sometimes the really ugly of our lives. The show that we have lived and are reminders that we have survived things. They can also help put other things in perspective and give us the strength to endure new challenges. 

 This being said, of course if I could go back to 1 minute before the accident I would avoid this scar and still have my Gemi (who would likely hate day camp and be making this move stuff harder); But since I can't, I will just live with it. Maybe that is the balance I must strike in my life. To have had the joy of my Gemi for 6 years, I have to carry the pain of her death with me for the rest of mine. 

We go forward in our lives. Loving our cats and Lee. Preparing for a move to the country, a new start so to speak. But where ever I go, both Loki and Gemi are always with me. I think this comic probably shows how all bereaved dog owners feel:



  1. I am sure we all want to step back in time somewhere in our lives. Very sad.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Truly touching! Thanks for sharing, such honesty. Paw hugs!


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